[Menu]>[Japanese Classroom]

Confusion of YES and NO

In case of Japanese, there is a case contrary to English in the way of using "YES" and "NO".
It happens in case of negative question.

I will show the difference below. If someone does the following question.

Question : Don't you want to go there ?
I want.Yes.No.
I don't wantNo.Yes.

In Japanese, the answer(Yes or No) depends on the style of the question.
Negative(Question) and Negative(Answer), it becomes Positive. So, it means "I want".
Negative(Question) and Positive(Answer), it becomes Negative. So it means "I don't want."

In English, the answer doesn't depend on the style of the question.
"I want." then YES.
"I don't want." then NO.

Be careful to make a negative question to Japanese. The confusion occurs.

In case of positive question, there is no problem.
Question : Do you want to go there ?
I want.Yes.Yes.
I don't wantNo.No.

This is a cultural difference.

There is a case which doesn't apply to above-mentioned rule.
It is the case of the invitations.

When inviting a friend to the movie and so on, we say "Issyo ni ikimasen ka ?" or "Ikanai ?". It's "Won't you come ?" in English.
"Issyo" is "Together" or "with". "Ikimasu" is "Go" or "Come". "Ikimasen" is "Not go" or "Not Come".
This is a negative question. But we answer "Hai ikimasu" means "Yes, I will." if we want to go.
The form of this sentence is negative but the purpose is not negative.
Why negative. I think it is the expression to have respected the will of the invited person.
The meaning of the invitation by negative sentence is "You may not be able to take the time to come with me but is it possible to come to the movie with me ?"
The purpose of this sentence is "I want to come to the movie with you".
Not negative so the answer is "Yes, I will." if you want to go.

Thank you Jordi.